Monday, August 31, 2009

Burghley and Bunnies

Today was another slow day at Maizey Manor. All of the horses that live here on the farm went to a one-day horse trial today, so it was uncommonly quiet on the farm all day. David was here this morning for lessons again. Trevor did Dressage this morning and I ran the video camera so that Jess could watch it afterwards. It was a really good lesson, and Jess was pleased with Trevor's work. He is really learning how to go with a good 'step' in both his trot and canter work now. The power coming from behind and the energy with which it is coming is making his work much more uphill and positive. All good things. :)

The Burghley horses will be leaving on lorries in the morning, so Sandra and Paige have been unpacking and repacking all day. It will be strange here when they all leave! It has been so fun having the whole team together, but today was our last day to have us all on the farm. Diana Burnett and her horse Manny, and Kyle Carter and his horse Parker (Madison Park) are leaving in the morning with their grooms (Paige and Sandra). So for the rest of the week it will just be me and Amanda taking care of our horses, and our riders Jess and Jessie. Both of the Jesses are leaving Friday to go to Burghley for the weekend and then it will just be Amanda and me on the farm. We will probably watch Burghley on the computer and do a LOT of hand-walking! :)

So unfortunately the most interesting thing that I have to report is that I saw 34 bunnies today. Seriously! Those things run around here just like squirrels do at home, except they aren't as skittish around people as squirrels are. I always walk within feet of them and they dont' hop away. Strange really. I"ve come to the personal conclusion that the only thing that outnumbers rabbits in England is slugs. Not nearly as cute and fluffy.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hurry up and wait

Not much to report today. Jess had a jumping lesson on Trevor this morning. They worked on adjusting and being able to go really forward. Nothing too terribly exciting. :) Trevor jumped well though. We got our Team Canada stuff for this trip today, so I'm wearing a very warm and impressively cute gray and black "Canada" jacket and have two warm snugrug long sleeve stretchie shirts to keep me warm while we're here as well.

Otherwise today, I have handwalked Trevor a lot with the other girls, done a good bit of laundry (both human and horse) including scrubbing new saddle pads with OxyClean, and cleaned a lot of tack. Exciting, I know! haha The horses that are here with us for Burghley are getting ready to leave the farm Tuesday morning and those of us waiting for Blenheim the week after are getting ready for a very quiet week. :) We had a great lunch at the Pub today, and will probably have dinner here at the farm since we did buy some groceries yesterday when we went into Marlborough.

It sounds like things at home are going well enough. I got word that my new horse, Emma, has some "puffy" legs today... hoping that's a bit of nothing. And it's almost the first of September which means it's time for bill paying and check cashing to happen without me there... a bit nerve-wracking! haha! I'm sure everyone will take care of things smoothly since they have all been so great to take care of everything while I'm gone so far. So with little to report, I'll leave it at that for today. Maybe I'll have something more exciting for y'all tomorrow!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Last night was a fun night! We got to go to the horse show at Windsor Castle, which is completely gorgeous by the way. :) We got there and bought our tickets and walked through the gates and the sign at the entrance said "European Show Jumping and Dressage Championships"! None of us had any idea that was what the show was. haha! I asked Emma, Phillip Dutton's groom, and she said "Yeah, it's like our Pan American Games". It was SO cool!!! Jess and I shopped around in the vendor village for a while, then went to our seats for the demos. They did a Para-Dressage demo, a Shetland Pony Grand National, Driving Exhibition, the Eventing Grand Prix, and a Puissance! It was so awesome!

This morning David came for early lessons again. Trevor and Jess had a great dressage lesson! We used one of the new saddle pads that Patricia at EcoGold sent us and Wow!!! It looks great on Trevor, with the Canadian flag sewn onto the corner, and it works brilliantly. Trevor has trouble with his saddle slipping, and with these pads it stays put no matter what! Thanks Patricia!!! We'll definately be using that on XC at Blenheim!

Emma went into London with her family tonight and I got the great honor of taking care of Milo (TruLuck). :) It was just cool to even clean his stall and take him for his walk! haha

Tomorrow should be slow. David is doing jump lessons with everyone in the morning, then we will probably have another easy day after that. We all watched a movie at lunch today, and will probably do the same tomorrow. :) The weather is frigid here. I have never been so cold in August! There was frost on the windows in the place we are good when there is no heat in the house! It's all good though, I think I packed enough long sleeves. I'll add pictures tomorrow. Camera is in the house and everyone else has gone to bed early.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Today is Friday, Aug 28 and it is 1:23 in the afternoon. We have had a really easy day so far. David O’Connor, the Canadian Team coach, got into town last night and came to the farm early this morning to do lessons with each of the riders. So instead of getting up at 7 this morning, those of us with Canadian horses were in the barn feeding at 6:45 so that our horses could be fed, groomed, equissaged, and hand walked before David arrived at 8:00. By the time the other riders and grooms on the farm showed up to start feeding and doing chores, we were all done and ready for the day to formally start. Kyle had the first lesson on Parker, and then Jess and Trevor were next. They had an amazing lesson today. David really had them working well and Trevor was moving better than I’ve seen him go in quite a while. It seems like David and Trevor are really on the same page when it comes to Dressage and lessons with David are always fun to watch because the end product is always a beautiful thing. Jess even smiled through most of the lesson because Trevor was being so good, and she never does that! She’s usually concentrating on making him *stay* that good, but today she was very happy with him. (picture from this morning’s lesson)

Jess, Jessica Phoenix, and Amanda (Jessica P’s groom) went into town after the horses were settled from their rides. We had a nice lunch and went to a few little stores. Marlborough is SUCH a cute little town! Unfortunately it was raining almost the whole time we were there, but it was still absolutely adorable. I took a couple of pictures on the main street in town where we were walking. Such a tourist thing to do, but hey let’s face it…. I’m a tourist!

We are all very excited about tonight! We are all going to the Windsor Horse Show for the Eventing Grand Prix! I have never been to one before, and there aren’t many of them in the States. I believe it is basically just an indoor thing in a big arena that is a mix of Cross Country and Show Jumps at around the 2* level in height (so not quite 4’). Izeb from the farm is riding her 4* horse in it as well as Clayton and Lucinda Fredericks and many other big name riders. So it should be really fun to watch. Hopefully tomorrow’s blog post should have some fun pictures from that outing. The only problem with going is that the EGP doesn’t start until about 9:00pm and it’s a little over an hour away. Needless to say it is going to be a late night! And David will be here tomorrow morning again for lessons starting at 8am. I should probably go take a nap… or atleast get comfortable and watch a movie for a bit.

I’m still missing home and everyone there. This is so much fun and I’m not ready for it to be over, but I’m going to be looking forward to hanging out with Walter, seeing Mom and Dad and picking up Madi, having Game Night with Candice Randall and Clay, and hanging out at my barn with my ponies and all of my girls. J I am getting reports though that things are going well at home, so that’s always good to know.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Almost Famous

The most amazing thing about the past few days to me has been the company that we are keeping here in England. I have learned that our host, David Green, is a four-time Olympian (there is a gold medal sitting on the coffee table...!), and rode at the World Equestrian Games for Australia. He also completed Badminton 19 times and Burghley 10 times (if I remember that correctly). I might be a little slow to put things together, but apparently David Green was once married to (the Great) Lucinda Green (hence her last name…). Their daughter was here the past 2 days and she looks JUST like her mother! One of David’s house guests all week has been a man called “Patch” who turns out to be the President of the FEI Eventing Division (But I think I mentioned that last time). Last night another guest showed up and introduced himself as ‘Eric from Sweden’ when we went over to hang out. It turns out that he is the coach of the New Zealand National Team. Good Grief! So today Patch was teaching jumping lessons all morning in the arena and a man rode in on a very fancy 5yo German-bred bay. He smiled when he walked by Paige and me and introduced himself as “Clay.” That would be Clayton Fredericks. Yep, the Clayton Fredericks that rides for Australia and won Rolex just a couple of years ago. The same Clayton Fredericks who is married to Lucinda Fredericks who won Rolex this year on her amazing mare Headly Brittania. Wow! He was so incredibly friendly, which is a huge plus. I set fences for all of Clayton’s jump lessons with Patch today (he brought 4 different horses) and afterwards Clayton asked me if I minded helping his groom get everyone settled…. Of course I don’t mind! Let’s just say it was an honor!

After all of the morning lessons were finished we took our horses to Barbury Castle to gallop on the track up the mountain. I had heard that the landscape there was completely breath taking and it did not let us down. The track itself was incredible. They have several different gallops there, but today we went on the one that is 4 furlongs up a very steep upgrade to the top of a large hill. Six horses went to gallop today. We had Jess and Trevor, Amy Tryon and Leyland, Phillip Dutton and TruLuck, Jennifer Wooten and The Good Witch, a lady named Sally who apparently rode the horse she galloped today at the last European Championships, and Lizeb on the horse she took to Badminton and will be taking to the Europeans in a few weeks. It was awesome watching all of those great horses gallop in that beautiful setting!

The last 3 Canadian horses arrived at the farm late last night. Jessica Pheonix brought her two horses, Tucker and Digby to run Blenheim, and Diana Burnett’s horse Manny came to run Burghley. We were all hoping to go into London tonight to do a bit of sight-seeing but I think we need to stay on the farm and do drinks and dinner with David and Jackie (Green). Maybe we’ll go into the city tomorrow night.

It is definitely fun and beautiful here, but I do miss home. But it’s fun while it lasts here! Can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Catching Up

Sorry I'm so behind on writing! I've spent the last 2 days on the road or on a plane, not so good for spending time online. Yesterday was a fun day. My flight arrived in London around 9:30 Monday morning (England time. Around 3:30am Alabama time). Ofcourse, I was held at Customs for about 2 hrs.... funny really, but let's hope it doesn't happen again!

Once all of the grooms arrived we were picked up and driven to Stansted to pick our horses up from the Airport there. That was such a cool thing! All of the horses were brought in their crates to the quarantine area (picture below of horses in their crates. looks like 3 white horse trailers tagged together). Everyone travelled well, and Max went on and on about what a champ Trevor is and how well he did throughout the whole thing. :) Once the horses were all unloaded and checked over with their paperwork, they were loaded onto the lorry with all of our equipment and we were taken to David Green's farm in Marlborough, where we are staying for the next few weeks.

By the time we got to the farm it was almost dark, so we got the horses settled and our things unloaded and semi-organized and called it a night. Jackie Green cooked a great dinner for all of us, so we had a good meal in the house with some fun people (including the President of the FEI Eventing Division. haha!).

This morning Paige and I took Trevor and Parker for a nice hand walk. There are lots of sheep in pastures everywhere and lots of bunnies hopping all over the place. The horses are terrified of the sheep.. that's going to be interesting to watch! haha! Jess and Kyle arrive from the airport sometime in the next few hours. Not sure what's in the plans for the rest of the day after that, but we'll see! I'll update as often as possible.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Awe-inspiring and so full of history...

I have just watched the sun come up from the barn here in Gladstone, NJ at the United States Equestrian Team headquarters. We arrived here at 4:12am Sunday morning after leaving Richland, MI at 3:23pm on Saturday. After such a long drive, I would have thought that nothing could spark my attention other than getting Trevor settled and crawling into a bed in the upstairs dorm rooms. But then we pulled up the driveway..... The barn here must be 150 years old, if not older, and it is one of the grandest buildings I have ever seen. Unloading Trevor in front of the massive grand enterance to the barn was one thing, but leading him into the barn aisle towards his stall... I just had to take a deep breath.

This facility used to be the training facility for the USET back when Jack LeGoff was coaching the Team. Back when the US Eventing Team was a dynasty that could not be conquered. In those days, many Team horses were owned by the USET and those horses lived here and their riders trained here for international competitions. Some (if not *most*) of the greatest Event Horses of all time have lived in this barn. Just thinking about the great horses and riders who have called this their home, and how many gold medals have been won out of this building will almost bring a tear to your eye. I wonder what great horses lived and passed through the very stall that Trevor is napping in right now. Or who slept in the bed that is made for me upstairs (ya know, the one I can't bear to go lie down in because I want my eyes to soak up every square inch of this place before I leave). There are large signs by the front entry of all of the American riders who have won Team medals in the last 100 years or so. Some of the stalls are dedicated to great horses and marked by plaques. These horses include Brettina, Giltedge, Prince Pinache, Foltaire, and several more.

Kyle Carter arrived here at around 5:30 this morning and I helped him get Parker settled in since Missy and Brewster went straight to bed when we got here this morning. This is Kyle's first trip to this facility as well, but not Kyle's first big outing. Kyle and Parker have run Rolex several times, and were on the Canadian Team for both the Pan American Games in Rio, Brazil and the Olympics in Hong Kong. I had hoped to get some pictures and do all of my gawking before any of the veterans arrived....ya know, the ones who have done this kind of thing several times and don't think it's so cool anymore. But I was glad to see that Kyle was as in awe as I was. When I commented to him about that he just looked at me and said the best thing, and it's something that I will remember when I think that I'm supposed to outgrow being impressed by such greatness. He said "If this history doesn't effect you like this, then you are in the wrong business. This stuff is why we all do what we do. This is what it's all about." And he was so right.

I am sitting at the edge of the 'Dick and Jane Brown Dressage Arena' typing this, as it's the only spot I could find internet coverage. This "arena" is completely impressive in itself. It is surrounded by a low stone wall all the way around, brick pillars at both entrances with sculpted stone pots on top, and bleechers along one side. The plaque at the main entrance to the arena says: "dedicated to those who ride here with their hopes and dreams to make the team". That seems to be the theme of this whole place. Not the politics, the money, or the heartbreak, but the hopes and dreams of all who walk through those doors. If I wasn't ready to go to England before, I certainly am now.

I have several pictures to add to this post, but for some reason the connection is not good enough to post them now. I will make sure to add them later so that you can see atleast an idea of what this place is like. I wish I could send via blog the feeling of greatness this place gives off just before the sun comes up... I might never feel that again. It was almost like the ghosts of the great horses of the past were welcoming Trevor into an elite club.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ready..... Set.........

So today was an "off" day in that Trevor was not competing. But we got a lot done! We unpacked pretty much everything for the trip, put silver duct tape with Jess's name on almost everything Trevor has, and then repacked it all. Trevor did some flat work just to stretch his legs and work on some little details (like the ever-evil rein back).

I got to spend a lot of time with Elizabeth today. :) We went shopping at the vendor village at the horse show and I got a really cute Polo shirt for like half what they usually cost (I'm cheap and all about some deals!). Then I braided Freddie, Elizabeth's Novice Pro of a horse, and made him all pretty for his dressage test. He looked like such a big boy! Freddie's dressage test was SO great! Elizabeth should be very proud of her pony and how far he's come in the past year. He is a really nice horse! He scored a 38 and is just out of 8th in his division in his very first Novice HT. Yay Freddie!

Trevor goes Cross Country in the morning at like 10:35 eastern time. I walked the course with Jess this afternoon and it looks really good. BIG, but good. Hopefully it will be a good positive run for the both of them before shipping out for the big show. Jess leaves for the airport really soon after she rides, and I'll stay at the show w/ Trevor until about 3:00. Then we head out with Missy and go to Gladstone for quarantine. We should be getting there around 3 or 4 am... long drive. The horses will get fluids and have a chance to rest while in NJ. I will have to leave for Newark Airport at 11:00 am Sunday, but Trevor's flight won't leave JFK for Stanstead until 11:00 pm. My flight from Newark leaves a little before 7pm Sunday evening and I'll arrive in London at Heathrow Airport around 10:00 am Monday (local London time).

I'm sure I won't be able to post tomorrow, because I'll go straight from the horse show to the truck for the long drive. But I should be able to post something from the Airport when I get settled in at Newark. Saturday and Sunday are one long strung-together day in my mind, but to everyone else I'll miss a day on here. Sorry!

Say a prayer that Trevor and Jess have a great and safe run on cross country tomorrow and that we have a safe drive to NJ. The next few days are going to be very long and full of travel!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dressage day at Richland

Trevor did Dressage today at Richland and was such a good boy! His trot work really is better than ever, he's really come a long way. We had some rain today, but luckily it stopped just long enough for Trevor's test. He is not show jumping and completing the competition, so placings don't matter at all... but he scored a 37 and is standing in 10th after Dressage. He got extra treats today :)
Tomorrow is an off day for Trevor. He doesn't run cross country until Saturday morning, so we'll spend the day tomorrow unpacking and repacking everything to make sure that everything is where it needs to be for the big trip to England.
Elizabeth is on her way up right now (didn't get to leave KY until after work so she won't be here until really late. Bless her heart!). I'm so excited to get to spend the day with her tomorrow! I'll be braiding the great Freddie for his first Novice dressage test tomorrow. :) Elizabeth and I will spend the rest of the day (when I'm not packing, ofcourse) walking XC courses and shopping at the vendor village. Should be a fun day. :) Hopefully it won't rain!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm sitting in the airport in Birmingham waiting to get on my flight to Kalamazoo, MI. I am so bad at saying good bye! And I can assure you there are plenty of people that I had to say good bye to in the last 2 days. First my horses (especially my Jelly) and my kids at the barn, then Walter, and this morning I had to leave my puppy at my parents' house and then say bye to my parents when they brought me to the airport. So sad!

But the happy ending is that the "big adventure" has officially begun. I was so proud of myself for having everything so organized for this trip. Every bill, every horse, every list, every job has been perfectly arranged so that there are minimal (if any) questions while I'm gone. And then I forgot the most important thing...... Yesterday I made copies of my drivers licence and health insurance card just so that I would have copies if I need them while I'm gone.... yeah.... I left the actual cards in my copier at my house! I didn't realize that until I went to get out my passport and license when it was time to head to the airport this morning. I have no Drivers License! What an idiot... My sister is on her way to my house to get them right now and they hopefully can be fedexed to me in Michigan over night. Luckily I can get on my flight today with just my passport, but I'm not totally sure I can get out of the country without it. And if nothing else, it definately puts a dent in the plan that when I get to MI today I was supposed to rent a car for the week.... Guess we'll have to figure out another way to get around for a couple of days.

I'm hoping to have internet in MI, but who knows. The girls at home have already been doing a great job of keeping me company via email. :) Thanks girls!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Almost time to go! Found out Friday night that instead of leaving home this coming Friday to fly up to Michigan, I'm leaving Wednesday morning. So I have today and tomorrow to get everything ready and packed and then I'll drive to Birmingham tomorrow night after my last lesson so it's an easy trip to the airport on Wednesday morning. That means cramming a week worth of stuff into 2 days, but I think I've just about got it all under control.

I'm really excited about going to Richland, mostly to get to see my best friend that lives in KY. Her horse is being ridden by a really good young rider this year and he is doing his first Novice HT at Richland this weekend. So I"m thrilled to get to go and see Freddie do his big move-up and spend some time w/ Elizabeth!

Trevor seems to be doing well at Jan's in VA. Jess says his work has been good and he is jumping well. He's even gained some weight! (Good thing for such a picky eater!). I'm looking forward to getting to see (and curry!) him again. It's been about 2 weeks since he left home.

And just like that, it's time for this adventure to begin! After planning this trip all year, it's hard to believe that it's actually time to do this. :) Wish us luck! Hopefully I'll be able to post from Michigan. If not, then see ya in England!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New plans, old plans, and lots of lists

So our plans have changed about a million times in the past week, but all eyes are still on that one main goal of getting to Blenheim and making the Canadian team proud. Jess and Trevor had a little..."glitch"... at Wits End CIC 3* last weekend. For the first time ever, Jess fell off of Trevor. And Jess doesn't do anything if she doesn't do it in fine form. haha! So after a dramatic spill at fence 7 on XC, our plans have taken a tumble of their own. We've gotten pretty good at changing complex plans in the matter of a couple of days and making it look like it was supposed to happen that way.

Old Plan: Run Wits End, then Trevor goes to Jan Byyny's for the week to be worked and get ready, then I fly to VA next Friday to finalize packing and then ride to NY with Max (Karen O'Connor's groom) and on to England. (Seems so simple now... haha)

New Plan: Trevor is in VA at Mara Dean's being ridden and taken great care of by Mara (thanks Mara!) because poor sweet Jan had a spill of her own at Phillip's farm on a younger horse and broke her foot. (so no Burghley for Jan. Bummer!). Jess and Trevor will run Advanced at Richland Park next weekend, Aug. 22 and only do the Dressage and XC. So I will be flying either to Michigan to meet them for Richland, or to VA to drive to Richland with them, not sure yet (I'm learning to handle less strict scheduling... it's hard for me!). Then on Sunday I will take Trevor, either with Max or Missy Ransehausen (I just butchered her name... but I'm too tired to look it up right now, I'm sorry Missy!) to NY for quarantine and then on to England. Jess is planning on meeting us in England a day or 2 later.

So to be completely honest, I just typed the last half of this blog post and clicked "enter" and my laptop deleted the rest.... Grrrr!

I will be spending my remaining days at home typing lists to make sure that everything I am leaving behind is easy to take care of for the wonderful people who are helping me out. There is so much to organize and arrange I actually have a list of all of the lists that I need to type! But it will all get done and all will be well. :)

On a less stressful and chaotic note: I got a new horse this week! Her name is Emma and she is one of the most gorgeous horses I have seen! (she's not exaclty smiling in this picture on the left, but she really is quite pretty). Emma is a lovely blood bay and a beautiful body type. She is 14 and has been an eventer for quite a while and even did quite well this past Winter in Florida with the big kids. I am so looking forward to having some fun and fight-free (no offense to Jelly lol) competitions with her in the future! Jelly is still doing really well and is on track to do his move-up soon. The original plan of moving up this weekend on the 15th at Poplar fell through because Jan had to cancel the clinic, Jess had to leave and wouldn't be around to help me with him, etc. So the Training Level debut has been pushed back to after the England trip, but that's really ok. That will just give me enough time to prepare and enjoy it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Chaos and Downtime

Chaos and Downtime... a bit of a contradiction, yes? That's life.
The chaos started Wednesday evening when we found out that our flying buddy for England, Kyle Carter, had decided not to make the trip. No biggie right? Just fly with someone else out of a different airport (as opposed to ATL just down the street). Not that easy though. Driving Trevor to Canada this week for Wits End, then back down (about a 24hr drive), just to drive *back* up to NY or Toronto in 2 weeks, put him on a plane for 9 hrs, then depending on where we would fly out of, possibly putting him on a lorry for a 9 hr drive to our yard.... not a good idea! Too much travel for a pony. So we decided the only way to do it in Trevor's best interest would be for them to not come home from Wits End and to just stay up North. Great plan! But wait... *We hadn't started packing for Europe yet!!!* (Insert nervous breakdown here). So we had Thursday and Friday morning to get everything packed, not only for a week at Wits End, but also for 2 weeks in VA at Jan's, and almost 4 weeks in England! Never fear, we got it all done. I definately won't say that I would want to do it again though!

The downtime came in a little later. We got all of the packing done and I hit the road heading for Augusta, GA for the weekend to visit my boyfriend who has been living up there all summer on an internship. We went to a movie friday night and then were on the road very early saturday morning heading for Charleston, SC for a day of walking the streets, shopping, eating, and relaxing. It was wonderful! The weekend ended all too soon after a nice church service Sunday morning and lunch at The Augusta Country Club. I had to be back home to take care of both barns full of horses Sunday evening. But it was a great trip! So nice to spend some time together and just relax... no stall cleaning!